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Monday, November 16, 2015

has the last year and a half gone by really quickly, or is it just me?

Hey family!

I hope you all had a great week! Thanks as always for your love and support.

This week was a great week. We worked really hard and were super busy, and it was worth it! We saw a lot of progress both in the work with the members and in the area in general this week, which was such a blessing. We had a couple of investigators come to church for the first time yesterday. We´ve been working with one of them to come to church for a while now, and last week she told us that she wasn´t going to be able to go, but promised us that she would come this week. So when we went to teach her on Wednesday we agreed to meet outside of our apartment to walk to church together. When we walked out yesterday she was waiting for us and as we started walking she started telling us about how the night before she was running around at 9:00 trying to find a place where she could buy more minutes to call us and tell us that she wasn´t going to go. She said she went to like four different places that normally sell credit for cell phones and every one was either closed or told her that they didn´t offer that service. We told her, "See? You obviously needed to come to church today." :) And the most interesting part is in Sunday School the week before we finished the course and the teacher decided to wait and start over in January, so instead of giving the normal lesson she gave one on Faith. We´ve been working with this same investigator a lot because she feels like she´s completely lost her faith, and the lesson was perfect for her. It was amazing how everything worked out! And she had a really good experience at church.

Today we went to el Centro with the other sisters in the Zone, and it was the best P-day I´ve ever had! We arrived in the center of town just in time to see a parade (this Friday is a national holiday, Día de la Revolución de México). After watching the parade for a while we went all over town seeing a few of the tourist sights- we went on a museum tour of the mining history here in Durango and a museum, and we were going to go on the Teleferico (gondola to see the city) but it was closed because of weather conditions, so I treated the other sisters to smoothies and brownies in a little café that we found. It was so fun and so sweet of Hermana Vázquez to think of doing that for Hermana Hernández and I. 

To be honest, I´ve kind of been avoiding writing this email.....I just don´t know what to say! I seriously can´t believe that it´s already been a year and a half, and I honestly don´t have words to express my gratitude for the opportunity that I´ve had to be a missionary. It has definitely been hard, but I have grown and learned so much, and become so much closer to my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I learned so many things on my mission that I wouldn´t have time to list them all, but I just want to share that I know that this work, this Church, and this Gospel are true. God is our loving Heavenly Father who created this plan for our eternal progress and we have eternal potential as His sons and daughters. I am so grateful for His Son Jesus Christ; because of Him each of us can have a new beginning and eternal joy.

Last transfer, an elder who was going home said in his final testimony, "Thanks to the Atonement, I have no regrets about my mission." I loved that. I was definitely not a perfect missionary, but this work is perfect and I am grateful for the Perfect Being who accepts my humble offering. He has given me so many blessings that the past year and a half haven´t been a sacrifice at all. It´s just another blessing, one of the biggest ones I have ever received. 

Mom and Dad, I´ll see you on Friday. Everyone else, I´ll see you on Thanksgiving. I love you all so much and I know that this Gospel is true. 

Love forever, 

Hermana Ashley Rose Southard
Misión México Torreón

Monday, November 9, 2015

once upon a time and answered prayers

Hello family!

Thanks for the emails this week. Yes, I am so excited to see you, but yes, I am starting to feel lots of emotions as I begin my last full week here. I´m ready to come home, I know I am, but.................

Bueno. In a few hours we´re actually going to go to the center of town for a few hours before District Meeting. Hermana Vázquez, a sister in our zone, asked permission for the six sisters in our zone to go to el Centro before Hermana Hernández and I leave in a couple of weeks. It was really sweet of her and I´m excited to go. I´ll send pictures next week. 

The ward activity turned out really well! Not a lot of members attended, but three of our investigators and lots of members from the other ward went, so I think it was worth it. Everyone who did go really liked it a lot and the next day were telling all of the other members that they missed out. The Elders came up with a really creative story line. The skit begins with the basic story of Little Red Riding Hood, on her way to Grandmother´s house, when she meets the wolf and he sends her down another path so that he can beat her to her Grandmother´s house. While traveling down the path, Little Red Riding Hood finds the Three Little Pigs and starts to play with them. Then the narrator comes in and asks the pigs what they´re doing in the story and they´re arguing about why they should be there when the wolf shows up, impatient because Little Red Riding Hood has taken so long to get to Grandma´s house. The wolf decides that he´s better off eating them all right there, and starts chasing them when Maleficent arrives (dramatic entry with an evil laugh) and asks what they´re doing. The wolf tries to act all big and bad, but she turns him into a chihuahua and is about to carry out her evil plans with all the other characters when the rancher prince arrives to save the day. The prince and Maleficent begin to fight when we go back to the day before, when the three little pigs are playing hide and seek when the missionaries contact the pig who´s doing the seeking. She tells them that she´s not interested in listening but gives them Maleficent´s address as a referral. The skit goes back to the fight between the prince and Maleficent, who´s about to beat him, when the narrator warns that the missionaries are coming. Everyone runs and hides in the house and the missionaries arrive and knock at the door, but no one answers. They´re standing outside figuring out what to do when the grandmother arrives. They contact her and she tells them that she´s a member and that Maleficent is her daughter. She lets the missionaries in and convinces Maleficent to listen to them, and the skit ends with the missionaries converting Maleficent. And they all live happily ever after. :)

So that was the big activity of this week, preparing for the skit. But we also had a really good experience and received a big answer to prayers yesterday. On Tuesday we had Zone Conference and decided to do a zone fast Saturday-Sunday. We were fasting for the investigators and for our ward. After sacrament meeting a brother in the ward asked if he could talk to us and expressed that he wants to help us motivate the ward members so that they begin participating in the work. We came up with a plan to train the ward members every Sunday that the bishop approved and they´re going to start in two weeks. It was literally an answer to three months´ of fasting and prayers and trying to get the members to work. Even though I won´t be here to help, I felt like all of the effort we´ve put in over the past few months is finally paying off. The Lord answers prayers in His own time, but He answers them.

I love you all so much! I´m ready to give it all I´ve got during my last full week. I love this work.


Hermana Southard    

cast photo: (left to right, from the top)
Elder Lima, the big bad wolf; Omar & Daniel, the missionaries; Elder Sánchez, el principe ranchero (the rancher prince); Hna Isis, who held the signs "And They Lived Happily Ever After", etc; Óscar, the narrator; Lelani, Little Red Riding Hood, Lety, Little Pig #2, Hna Peña, Little Pig #3, me, Malefica (Malificent); Hermana Hernández, the grandmother; and Hermana Osorio, Little Pig #1.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Feliz Día de Muertos!

Hola hola!

First of all, thank you so much for all of the emails! I am so sorry if I don´t have time to respond. But I absolutely love hearing from all of you. And thank you so much for all the words of support...I´m finding that the last transfer has some unique challenges but I´m doing good overall!

A couple of you asked about Día de los Muertos. Yep, it is today. The cemetary is in our area, and later on today we´re going to go to the market that they set up outside of the cemetary to contact and talk to people about the Plan of Salvation and Temples/Family History. It´s actually kind of funny, because the cemetary is partly in the area of Barrio Central and partly in the area of Barrio Guadalupe, and last year I went with my first companion to the same market to contact. I remember that when we had finished contacting we were walking when we both commented how the next year on Día de los Muertos, I would be just weeks away from finishing my mission and she would already be home. I can´t believe that year has already gone by. 

We´ve been practicing all week for the ward activity we´re going to have on Saturday. Next week I´ll send you a summary of the plotline of the skit we´re doing. It turned out really well and I´m excited. :) Two members from Mezquital are helping us and wow, acting is more complicated than I thought! Ha ha but it´s going to be great :)

I´m short on time (again), and have to go, but thank you again for all of your support. I know that this gospel and this work are true. I am so grateful for the opportunity I´ve had to serve here and the weeks I have left. 

Hermana Southard